September 19, 2021

Volume XI, Number 262

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September 17, 2021

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Baltimore Blows By Brother Burghs with Big Biometrics Ban

Baltimore recently prohibited several uses of “face surveillance” technology.  Under the new law companies cannot use systems that identify or verify individuals based on their face.  The law also prohibits saving information gathered from these systems.  Getting an individual’s consent is not a way around the prohibition. Nor is promising not to connect information gathered with other personal information.

There is an important exception that many companies will find useful. Namely, the law permits facial recognition technologies that are used to give access to specific locations or devices.  Some are concerned that the law is overly restrictive. It applies to both people and companies and does not have standard exceptions like research.  Coding projects that scan and use data of the researchers’ own faces would thus be a violation.

Violations of the law are misdemeanors that can result in a 12-month prison term and/or a $1,000 fine.  The law went into effect on September 8, 2021 and automatically expires on December 31, 2022.  The city council can extend the bill for another five years if it determines that the law remains in the public interest.

Putting it Into Practice: Organizations with operations in Baltimore will want to review their use of facial recognition technology.  While using the tools for accessing locations or services is acceptable, use beyond this is prohibited. 

Copyright © 2021, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP.National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 257
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About this Author

Liisa Thomas, Sheppard Mullin Law Firm, Chicago, Cybersecurity Law Attorney
Partner

Liisa Thomas, a partner based in the firm’s Chicago and London offices, is Co-Chair of the Privacy and Cybersecurity Practice. Her clients rely on her ability to create clarity in a sea of confusing legal requirements and describe her as “extremely responsive, while providing thoughtful legal analysis combined with real world practical advice.” Liisa is the author of the definitive treatise on data breach, Thomas on Data Breach: A Practical Guide to Handling Worldwide Data Breach Notification, which has been described as “a no-nonsense roadmap for in-house and...

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